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The Fuel Crisis

Solidarity should come as no surprise to Blair

EDITOR - After the tumultuous last few weeks that we, as a country experienced due to the petrol crisis, most of the nation's press have given the impression that they are astonished by the strong general feeling and solidarity shown by the public.
This I find difficult to understand as there have been many illustrious precedents in British history, from King Charles dissolving the People's Parliament to Adolph Hitler falling on Europe like a mad dog. As a nation, politically, we are generally supine but there comes a point, when some one kicks the underdog or a fair and just a leader arises and when this phenomenon occurs there is no country on the world capable of banding together in a cohesive unit as well as our country.
During the last few days we have listened on the one hand to Mr Blair standing firm and raving on about the pickets' threats, intimidation and violence and on the other hand we have witnessed the truth of the matter. Pickets sharing coffee with tanker drivers, policemen chatting with pickets, altogether a typically British affair. It would appear that the threats and violence were only in the hopes and mind of Mr Blair. There has been one good point this week. From the ashes of lies, deceit, greed and arrogance has risen the phoenix of fair play, humility and common sense.
Ron Watkins, Tower Street, Dukinfield.

Protests are a warning to 'arrogant' leaders

EDITOR - When the British people told Thatcher they were no longer prepared to put up with the poll tax, they were greeted with arrogance, contempt and ignored.
When the British people told Blair they did not want public money wasted on the Dome they were greeted with arrogance, contempt and ignored.
Now the British people are telling Blair they are no longer prepared to put up with this grossly unfair fuel tax, they have been greeted with even greater arrogance. Blair should take a lesson from history - the British people sorted Thatcher out, they will sort him out as well. He is saying that it's all Opec's fault. Is it Opec that are taking over 80p in the pound as tax? Is it Opec that have squandered our money, to satisfy one man's ego?
The protesters have my full support, but next time the protests should be more carefully directed. We all know the government are to blame, so next time - and there will be a next time because he has not learned the lesson yet - the blockades should be round Westminster, Downing Street and every other non - essential government building.
E Openshaw, Newton Green, Newton.

Farmers forced to act

EDITOR - I do support the farmers as they have been struggling for years because of the European agricultural policy. They have not received any government help and I feel they have been forced into this action on the price of fuel. Also, the road haulage companies know better than most just what it is like on our overcrowded roads and motorways. I live in Hollingworth and, as everyone knows, we have all the motorway traffic choking up our village along with Mottram and Tintwistle. The Highways Agency have decided that alter 25 years they will try to get a by-pass from Hattersley roundabout through to Tintwistle and then onto the old Woodhead Pass. Wait and see.
Name and address supplied.

NHS more important than hauliers' business

EDITOR - Can any road haulier or blockade supporter explain to me why they think their business is more important than pollution, ozone layer and the NHS, which fuel tax has been raised to fund. These blockade merchants are just Tory thugs, who drove through the miners' picket lines in 1984/85. The media have been behind these criminals 100 per cent, treating them with the kid gloves miners or anti - capitalist protesters certainly wouldn't get. There are only a few decades of oil left - it's good to see the hauliers are so concerned about future generations. The absolute display of self interest is frightening. The public largely do not deserve the relatively easy lives they have in the affluent west.
Name and address supplied.

Fuel protesters held us hostage

EDITOR - The British public was very effectively misled by the petrol blockaders. If the hauliers, farmers or taxi drivers had been miners or dockers the oil producers would have used the power of the courts to force their tankers through.
Instead we saw the general public held hostage by this unholy alliance unhindered by laws which a decade ago were effectively used to smash the miners. The independent hauliers didn't seem to mind ignoring the miners' blockades in pursuit of profit.
The blockaders claim to represent me in so far as they will succeed in getting my fuel price reduced. I don't believe you. Most diesel used by farmers is industrial 'red' diesel which carries a tax of only 3.1 pence per litre. Every business user can also claim back the VAT on fuel, so those in the blockades pay less than the public.
As for taxi drivers, we all know and remember their fare policies over Christmas and Millennium eves. Their newfound concern for Joe Public raises a hollow laugh.
The Oxford Economic Research Associates has calculated that if motoring taxes were levied in accordance with environmental damage, the road haulage industry would have to pay a further £2.5bn per annum. The large numbers of private hauliers on the roads could be reduced if their goods were carried on the largely unsubsidised railways.
I am utterly contemptuous towards the Welsh farmers and their leader Brynle Williams. They blockaded the ports to prevent us receiving cheap European beef. Now they prevent us from being supplied with petrol because they want cheap European fuel.
Anthony David Jones, Latchford Street, Ashton

Farmers have had raw deal

EDITOR - I have just read with some considerable amusement how Andrew Bennett MP said the farmers involved in the recent fuel blockades had a cheek because they get their fuel almost free.
This is a very clear indication of just how out of touch with reality some MPs are. It is perfectly true that farmers do not pay much duty on the diesel they use on the farm, but the British government betrayed farming by agreeing to the European common agricultural policy and completely mishandling the BSE affair.
Many farmers have been forced to take on a second job, in order to keep the wolf from the door and in many cases they have chosen to become road hauliers, which gives them every right to protest, along with everyone else.
Mr Bennett would be better serving his constituents, if his verbal outpourings were directed at getting his government to take positive action now to end the - still in place - illegal French ban on beef. It would be better also to get them to come down from their ivory towers to speak to the people and get to know just how serious and widespread the harmful effects of this grossly unfair fuel duty are.
EN Openshaw, Newton Green, Newton
[The Advertiser 5/10/2000]

My Comment : I agree with "NHS More Important" and "Fuel protesters held hostage".Mr Watkins seems to have a short memory. When the miners needed support no one came to their aid,and Thatcher broke the unions. Now that people are under pressure and need to unite,there is no union strength or solidarity.Mr Watkins is correct that the British wait until the last minute to do anything about being unfairly treated. The unions were meant to protect people from being unfairly treated. There are double standards acting here.How anyone can say farmers have suffered is beyond me.They have shot themselves in the foot.Farmer Gould,says that the governments relaxed regulations on feed and that's what created the BSE problem.They didn't need to drop to the minimum standards in order to maximise profits.
Farmers are generally Tory thugs,and now that they are feeling the pinch perhaps they realise what the miners went through,why should anyone support farmers and hauliers when no one came out in sympathy for the miners? Perhaps you'll get a taste of your own medicine now.
It's odd how we don't need unions until we need them,and then we don't have them because they weren't needed and were only causing trouble for the materialist profiteers. When those profiteers start feeling the pinch then they go looking for support from those that they cold shouldered and stabbed in the back. Farmers have been subsidised and kept afloat and made a net loss.Has anyone ever seen a farm house not undergoing restructuring or enhancement? And what of their business, is the first to suffer when they feel the pinch? - The animals of course.God forbid they should actually suffer themselves.
If we didn't have such a xenophobic,patriotic little Englander,anti-Europe mentality amongst our landowners and business owners (eg anti-metric) perhaps the agricultural policy would be such an anathema. Tory idiots like Thatcher rant rave and scream about keeping things British,even when it's in our best interests to accommodate Europe. Mr I-forget-his-name who fronts the Tories now falls into the same trap and does anything anti-Labour in order to make a quick profit from it.If Blair holds onto the rule of law by principle,the Tories support the farmer's and landowner's blinkered self interested selfish persuance of their own survival at the expense of everyone else. There are more important things that whether farmers pay high fuel tax.So they go under - hard luck, that's what happens when your business isn't profitable in a free market.And you do love that free market don't you farmers? Whilst you're making a profit that is.





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The Advertiser 28/9/2000 File Info: Created 29/9/2000 Updated 5/7/2001 Page Address: